Entries in Angela Savage (6)


What happened to 2014?

It is with some sense of bewilderment that I note the date in the bottom right hand corner of my computer. I must confess that 2014 sped by so fast that I had barely come to realise it was no longer 2013!  The final months of the year in particular left me spinning.

A Murder Unmentioned was released on 1 November.  Michael (my husband) and I were in Sydney.  He was recovering from a cornea transplant and I was leading him about.  I did manage to lead him to dinner with the divinely talented but wonderfully human Malla Nunn and P.M. Newton.  We ate cornbread and okra in this literally brilliant company... see what I did there?... ;) 

I made it back home in time to drive up to Thredbo for the Snowy Readers and Writers' Festival which I have been a part of since its inaugral event.  My boys came with me.   One of the best things about this crazy profession of mine is that Edmund and Atticus have the opportunity to meet some extraordinary people.  Poets like Omar Musa and Victoria McGrath, writers like Anna George, Karen Viggers, Biff Ward, David Leser, Chris Uhlmann and Steve Lewis.  I think (hope) it compensates for all the time their own mother is distracted by imaginary people.


I returned to the peaks again at the end of that month for the official launch of A Murder Unmentioned at a magnificent event at Crackenback Lake Resort hosted by the Snowprint Bookshop.  Despite having nine books to my name, I am at a loss to describe how special that night was.  The band was brilliant, the singers superb, the venue perfect, the company delightful and to top the night off with superlatives, the drama students of Snow Mountains Grammar School performed a chapter from A Murder Unmentioned so well that I swear they had been inside my head!  It was an evening so extraordinary that I wish I could bottle it somehow to share with the world, because something that wonderful shouldn't belong to just me.  But of course I haven't quite worked out how to contain the essence of a experience so photos will have to suffice!



But that's not all!  I also managed to squeeze in a trip to Melbourne for the Crime and Justice Festival hosted by Reader's Feast Bookstore.  This is a truly unique event which discusses not only crime in literature but also addresses questions of social justice and reform.  I appeared on two panels... the first with my dear friends and admired colleagues, Angela Savage and Robert Gott, and later with my Pantera stablemates Melanie Casey and Josh Donellan.  We discussed all manner of things, shared experiences, ideas and  laughter with wonderful audiences of readers. 


And then there was Christmas... which I spent away from home this year with my Dad and sister.  Dad had surgery just before Christmas and Devini and I headed up to Brisbane to keep an eye on him and do what we could.  In the flurry I neglected to update this site and wish you all the very best of the Season and a happy and healthy New Year, but the wish is now given and no less sincere for being so late!





The month that was.....

     The past month or so has more insane than most.  It seemed as though the universe converged on August.  It began with the Woodland Film Festival, in which I had the honour of being a judge.  Now, my knowledge, such as it is, is about story and not the technical aspects of film , but fortunately, my fellow judges were experts and more than made up for that deficiency.  It was quite wonderful to consider storytelling through another medium... what worked, what didn't, what made you laugh, what stayed with you.  The only section from which I was recused was the Local Film category.  My sons, Edmund (13) and Atticus (8) had entered and been shortlisted in that category and eventually won with a funny little film entitled Joe McLean and the Dame, of which they were producers, writers, cast and crew.  As you can imagine, our home movies can be a little elaborate!

August also saw me off to the Melbourne Writers' Festival for the first time.  I appeared in a wonderful panel entitled Writing Fashion with Danielle Whitfield (curator) and Brownyn Cosgrove (textile conservator), who were both behind the Fashion Detective Exhibition for which I wrote The Bequest.  I was a guest author in the MWF/Dumbo Feather's conversation caravan, where I had coffee and nibbles and while talking to festival goers in the intimate setting of the an aluminium caravan parked in Federations Square.



The Melbourne Writers Festival was also an opportunity to catch up with writer friends.  I had a particularly glorious day with my dear friend and fellow crime-writer, Angela Savage .  We toasted her double short-listing (Ned Kelly Award, Davitt Award) for The Dying Beach, talked writing, people and plans.  We shopped for clothes and  knelt on the floor of chic bakery just so we could get the cake display into our selfie.

I also had dinner with gentleman and fellow writer, Steve Eather, (who I met through Rowland Sinclair) and some lovely ladies to whom he had introduced Rowland.  A perfectly charming evening in every way.


 While I was in Melbourne I began a program of releasing books  into the wild... I don't who'll find them or where they'll end up but it was great fun finding places to leave them.


Of course I was assisted in this book releasing excercise by my sister and my Dad, who were both in Melbourne, and Angela as well.  For some reason you feel a bit guilty leaving a book... like you're abandoning a child... or littering....







In amongst all this I was lecturing LIT221 at Charles Sturt University... my first academic appointment.   Had a brilliant time!  Conducted my last lecture just before I flew out for Melbourne and my dear students brought cake... because clearly if I have taught them anything, it is that literature is enhanced by cake!  My job is done!


Interview with Rowland Sinclair

My dear friend and fellow writer, Angela Savage, has invited me to join the Meet the Main Character Blog Tour, which involves posting an interview with ones main character and inviting other writers to do the same.  You can read an interview with Angela's vibrant and uncompromising private detective, Jayne Keeney here

Interviewing Rowland Sinclair was admittedly something of a challenge... he's not always forthcoming with information.  I was forced to resurrect my past as a lawyer and cross-examine him a little... so please forgive the extra questions - they were necessary.


What is your name?

Rowland Henry Ffrench Sinclair.  How do you do?

  •   French with two “f”s?

My mother’s family name.  My friends call me Rowly.


Are you a fictional or historical character?

Technically speaking, I’m a fabrication of Ms. Gentill’s rather restless imagination.  Or I was initially.


When and where is your story set?

I first became acquainted with Ms. Gentill at the end of 1931, in Sydney.  She simply arrived one day.  Judging by the state of her attire, I assumed that she was a financially embarrassed painter or sculptor who’d come in with one of my other houseguests.  As it turned out, Ms. Gentill is not an artist but a writer, and though she’s fairly unobtrusive, she won’t leave.  She always seems to be watching.  It was a somewhat unnerving at first, but I have, over the years, become accustomed to her peculiar presence.  She seems to turn up wherever I go now… New York, Germany, London… she’s quite the dogged traveller.


What should we know about you?

I loathe whiskey.  If you’d care to offer me a drink, please make it gin or sherry.  I’m also not too fond of Fascists.  I like dogs.

  • Is that it?  Surely there’s more to you than that.

[Shrugs]  I’m a painter—portraits mainly.

  • And... 

[Impatiently] I’m an Oxford man, I speak several languages and I used to box.  I play polo badly and as infrequently as possible.


What is the main conflict? What messes up your life?

My brother, Wilfred, will tell you that it is the unemployed Communist set with whom I move.

My friends will tell you that it’s my conservative background and my Fascist brother.

I suspect it’s the fact that everybody I meet seems to be insane.


What is your personal goal?

Goals?  [laughs]  I’ve been told I’m feckless.  In fact I believe my brother would consider goals rather too common a concept, though he’s quite adamant that I should settle down and find a purpose.  To be truthful, I just want to paint. 

  •  What about Edna?

Miss Higgins does indeed have goals.  She’s both talented and ambitious.  I have no doubt that she will conquer the world.

  •   But is she one of your personal goals?

I’m not sure what you mean. 

  •   Is it your goal to make her yours?

[Frowning] Miss Higgins is not a piece of property… I cannot acquire her.

  •   Arrgghh!  Are you in love with her?

Well, yes.  A man would have to be dead or insensible not to be in love with Miss Higgins.


Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

I believe Ms. Gentill has called it A Murder Unmentioned.  Frankly, I'd prefer the whole episode remained unmentioned, but Ms. Gentill is not always discreet.

You can read the first chapter here.


When can we expect the book to be published?

A Murder Unmentioned will be in bookstores on 1 November 2014.  I believe this is the cover.



Shall post writers to continue the tour as soon as I've checked with them.


The Next Big Thing


I have been tagged by Angela Savage (Winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript 2004, Winner of the Scarlett Stilletto 2011 and shortlisted for the Ned Kelly Award in 2007 and 2011)  and P.M. Newton (Winner of the Davitt People’s Choice 2011 and the Asher Literary Award) for The Next Big Thing Meme.  Aside from the fact that being tagged by writers of the calibre of Angela and Pam is pretty wonderful in itself, the tagging has prompted me to finally update this website which has been sorely neglected in the past couple of months whilst I’ve been gadding about at Writers Festivals and such. 

So here goes.....


 1)     What is the working title of your current/next book?


I’m in the fairly early stages of my latest novel and an appropriately witty title has not yet jumped out at me, so the manuscript is still filed as Rowly V.

2) Where did the idea come from?


For this book, I’m not really sure.  The location of the setting and the beginning the novel is simply a natural progression from where I left Rowland and his entourage at the end of Paving the New Road.  I never really have an idea for a book as such… I have an idea for an opening paragraph, and then various ideas and stories seem to wander in of their own accord as I’m writing. Each small idea generates others and somehow they all combine to make a coherent whole by the end of the novel.  I still find the process a bit mysterious really.

3) What genre does your book fall under?


I like to think of my work as crime fiction (mainly because I love belonging to the Sisters in Crime who in my opinion simply rock!), but my books also been called historical fiction, Australian fiction and political thrillers.  I was even short-listed for a literary fiction prize once.  Go figure!  At heart I’m just a story-teller.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?


Rowland and his friends are so clear in my mind it’s really difficult to imagine them as anyone else, anyone real… but that’s a very boring answer and so I’ve tried.  I’ve managed to find reasonable facsimiles for four of the main characters… it’s all too hard!


Milton the Communist Poet : Noah Taylor (about 10 years too old)

   There’s something very bohemian and rakish about Noah Taylor which fits with my image of Milton.



Wilfred, Rowland’s eldest brother and head of the Sinclair family : Shaun Micallef/Hugo Weaving (Nb – both are also a little bit too old for the part but they seem reasonably well preserved, so maybe.) 


Both Mr Weaving and Mr Micallef (when he’s not making jokes) exude a certain quiet power which works with the way I see Wilfred.


Rowland, gentleman artist with a penchant for sleuthing : Ernest Hemmingway (dead… and not an actor)… the Rowland in my head looks something like this.





Edna, sculptress and the great love of Rowland’s life : Anna Buckley who appeared in the Ziegfield Follies in 1920s (Probably dead or about 110)


This is Edna as I imagine her.  I’ve painted from this photograph (by Alfred Cheney) a couple of times… I never tire of it.

 So I’ve cast people who are either too old or too dead to play the part… which leads me to promise that if my books are ever optioned…I’ll try to keep my nose out of the casting… unless they’re making a zombie version, in which case I’ll be able to tell them exactly who to dig up!

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?


What happened to Rowland Sinclair next….


I’m afraid that’s the best I can do at this stage… I have no idea what happens beyond the first 10 chapters which is all I have currently written.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?


The novel will be published by Pantera Press with a release date of September 2013.  I don’t have an agent.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft?


I haven’t finished the first draft yet.  I started about 6 weeks ago and will deliver the manuscript by the end of February…. so, if all goes well, around 5 months.  For me, this is usually heaps of time, but my day job is a little intense at the moment and I have Christmas and the school holidays plonked in the middle of this period.  Increasingly I’m forced to stop writing and deal with life!

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

 Many people tell me that my sons look alike… I can’t see it. (I promise there is a point to this digression)  To me they are as different as night a day.  I can see all sorts of differences that others seem to miss but perhaps that is because they are mine and I know every expression and contour on their faces.  The same is true of my books. (…and here’s the point)  I find it very hard to see overall similarity because the detail in my work is so known to me. 

Others (very nice others) have compared my work to Agatha Christie, Evelyn Waugh and Boris Akunin.  One extraordinarily kind reviewer even drew parallels between my books and Dickens!  I am of course flattered by these comparisons, but I find it impossible to judge myself. 


That being said, I think anyone who likes my books would also like Robert Gott’s Will Power Series.  Though his work and mine are different in a lot of ways, there is a keen sense of the absurd in the Will Power books which I think exists—though perhaps less overtly—in mine as well.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?


This is (or will be) the fifth book in the Rowland Sinclair series.  At this stage I’m inspired mainly by Rowland and the other characters whose stories I tell.  They seem now to have an existence independent of me… they beckon and I simply follow and watch and write.  I’m not so much inspired as enticed, sometimes compelled.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?


London in 1933, political intrigue, English aristocrats, hedonists, fascists, spies, drag balls, cocktails, cross-dressing, murder and art… so far.  I’m not sure what’ll turn up in the next 30 odd chapters.


So that’s me….


Now I get to tag!  By Boxing Day this year the following writers should have responded to the above questions as well.

 Karen Viggers, author of The Light Keeper’s Wife, who I met at a bus stop in Byron Bay.  You meet the most wonderful people at bus stops.  The Light Keeper’s Wife is haunting work woven around love and loss, belonging and regret.  Karen brings to her writing a sensitivity that is rare and moving.

L.A. Larkin is the author of Thirst which I see on bookshelves wherever I go.  I see L.A. herself less often but I am always delighted to do so.  As intrepid as her heroes, Louisa travels to the ends of the earth and sews up pigs in order to give her books an amazing level of authenticity.

John M. Green’s most recent book, Born to Run, is a political thriller of immense proportions… the race for the White House no less.  It’s a brilliantly crafted novel with a surprise at every turn.  The pace is relentless and the story compelling.  What’s more, John is a gorgeous human being and so modest that he doesn’t have a website, and so I will be posting his response here on the 26th.


Now I’m not actually supposed to upload this post until the 19th but I’ll be in Canberra doing a “tardis” interview with Michael Cathcart for Books and Arts Daily... so this is going up early.  Unfortunately it means that some of the writers I’ve tagged haven’t had time to get back to me (you know who you are)… so I’ll be adding to this post (hopefully) as and if they come in.


Other than that MERRY CHRISTMAS!



The Davitt Awards


A Decline in Prophets (Rowland Sinclair #2) has been short-listed for the Davitt Award.  The award is presented for the best crime novel written by an Australian woman in the previous year, by the irrepressible Sisters in Crime.  I am very honoured to be on this list.  My fellow shortlistees are:

Beyond Fear - Jaye Ford

To Love Honour and O'Brien - Jennifer Rowe

Shattered Sky - Helene Young

The Courier's New Bicycle - Kim Westwood

Death and the Spanish Lady - Carolyn Morwood.

My sincere congratulations to my fellow crimewriters.  I'm very chuffed to share a list with you.

Now of course, the award ceremony and announcement of the winner will not be held till 1 September and consequently I have no pictures of the event.  So below is one taken last year of myself and my dear friend and fellow crime novelist Angela Savage.  I include it because it reflects how I feel about being a member of this wonderful, supportive and murderous gathering of crime writers.  It is well worth writing a crime novel simply to be part of this group.